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Original Essays | June 20, 2014

Lauren Owen: IMG The Other Vampire

It's a wild and thundery night. Inside a ramshackle old manor house, a beautiful young girl lies asleep in bed. At the window, a figure watches... Continue »
  1. $18.90 Sale Hardcover add to wish list

    The Quick

    Lauren Owen 9780812993271


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lbrowne87 has commented on (2) products.

Repair: Poems by C K Williams
Repair: Poems

lbrowne87, December 10, 2006

Williams? writing in Repair is unique and strangely philosophical. Recurring themes include observation, human nature, and the material world vs. the natural world. Structurally, as a whole, his poems are linear and meditative. The stanzas are mostly uniform and all the same length for each poem. I believe that this jumped off the page at me because I?ve found that most poets don?t ?limit? themselves by making each stanza of their poem a specific number of lines. ?Bone? is the only poem from Repair that has uneven stanza breaks and is therefore significant in conveying Williams? style and preferred art form.
I found ?Bone? to be one of the most interesting poems in the book, my personal favorite. Williams? reason for creating the poem with this form could be the subject matter?s lack of symmetry and utter grotesqueness. The first line begins with ?An erratic, complicated shape,? possibly a hint for the reader, considering the definition of ?erratic? is ?eccentric, having no certain or definite course, wandering, not fixed?. The structure of the poem is undoubtedly limitless, figuratively and metaphorically. Road kill is not exactly one of the most popular topics in poetry these days. It may be difficult to find such a thing beautiful enough to write about. However, Williams finds beauty in the possible questions that could arise in an observer?s mind (maybe not the average person?s mind) and the environment surrounding the dead animal on the pavement. That is the most ironic part about this poem. Williams is describing this blackened animal carcass, still being eaten away at by miniscule creatures. He sees the pointlessness of the situation; the fact that these creatures are spending most of their short lives gnawing at this dead animal, not benefiting anything but themselves in the short run. Negativity or regret are feelings unknown to them. They live for this moment, savor this moment. How are we as humans to relate? We really can?t, until we read the last stanza, which depicts the scene of an intrigued child wanting to keep the animal carcass and the child?s mother yelling at him/her to put down the filthy thing. It?s a bit of comic relief. The reader is so absorbed by the vivid and semi-vile imagery in the first three stanzas that it comes as a shock to have such a surprising contrast appear at the end. This imagery is humorous, as opposed to undesirable. However, this stanza connects the natural world to the human world. As of now, humans are the ones triumphing over other life forms. It?s survival of the fittest and nature has always lost. We have destroyed the land, eaten the animals, and devalued nature, demonstrating our carelessness. This fact is implied in the line, ?How far beneath the asphalt, sewers, subways, mains and conduits is the / living earth to which at last they?ll once again descend?? We have covered the earth with our inventions and haven?t given it a second thought. I know that these thoughts don?t run through my mind when I see road kill, but apparently they cross Williams? mind.
As one can see, ?Bone? is unmistakably sui generis. It represents numerous thoughts and questions on human nature and nature in general, which are common themes in Williams? poetry. Its structure implies the importance of its subject matter, which includes a plethora of different ideas. I believe the poem shows Williams? novel train of thought, one probably underestimated, in addition to his true talent as a writer. He got me thinking deeply about road kill, so other readers must have had peculiar responses to his poetry as well, which allows me to appreciate Repair even more.
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Midnight Salvage: Poems 1995-1998 by Adrienne Cecile Rich
Midnight Salvage: Poems 1995-1998

lbrowne87, December 10, 2006

Midnight Salvage. The title interests me because ?salvage? is used to mean something saved from danger. Midnight Salvage gives me a feeling of darkness, but not necessarily in terms of hopelessness. From the definition of ?salvage,? I can conclude that there is hope to be found. It is there; it does exist. It may just be extremely difficult to find when you?re not in the light, metaphorically speaking. Many of Adrienne Rich?s poems involve war-torn countries and obliterated villages searching for the true definition of freedom and happiness. ?Shattered Head? is a poem with these themes. ?But time is a bloodshot eye/ seeing its last of beauty its own/ foreclosure/ a bloodshot mind/ finding itself unspeakable.? This work deals with the indescribable experiences of living through the war and Holocaust, experiences that everyone wishes could be forgotten, left in the past, and not taken into the future. (?Char?, 2, is one of my favorite war poems.) I especially enjoyed the discussion in ?Camino Real? about the baffled state the author found herself in when hearing stories of torture and suffering. She felt herself into the situation, saying that she was the one who was there suffering. Happiness being described as a glimpse of the unhandicapped life is quite interesting. Rich?s definition of happiness is living without confinements placed on you by society, being free from mental burden and physical oppression.
Rich attempts to find poetic beauty in everything, even gruesome events. She talks about war and torture in such a poetic way, describing the vivid details and getting across the point to the reader, while simultaneously maintaining her viewpoint. Artistry is a common theme in her poetry as well. For instance, the obstacles faced by artists, poets, painters, such as acceptance by society. ?This horrible patience which is part of the work/ This patience which waits for language for meaning for the/ least sign.? (pg. 14) I took this statement as one implying the difficulties of writing poetry. When your writing is hindered in some way, it is often hard to deal with. It is not simple finding beauty in unbeautiful things or situations. ?Art is a register of light.? (pg. 36) Art is indeed an indication of enlightenment, insight, and understanding.
I believe the cover picture is very fitting for the book. When I look at it, I feel the red first and then the dark blue. In ?Midnight Salvage,? Rich writes, ?Thought?s blood ebb between life- and death-time/ darkred behind darkblue.? (pg. 8) It makes me think of despair, terror, bloodshed during dark times. Also, the yellow is imbedded into the picture minimally. This may demonstrate the fact that there may not seem to be a bright side, but there is. You just have to look good and hard for it. That is the beauty of Rich?s poetry; her ability to find beauty in everything.
Rich?s structure is unique compared to other poets? form. The majority of her poems are broken into subsections and numbered. This provides us with individual situations or general ideas converging as one by the end. I believe this is more effective than combining all of these sections into one section. Her method of structure allows us as readers to first absorb each subsection and then reevaluate the entire poem as a whole and find consequential meaning. Conflicting ideas through direct and indirect contrast and repetition are a big part of Rich?s poetry as well. ?Modotti? is a perfect example of consistent repetition of words, phrases, and lines. Her imagery and descriptive vocabulary add much to the meaning of each poem. It allows us to feel and believe each situation, to relate as much as possible, even if it is impossible.
Who knew that ?A Long Conversation? would be such a long poem? 16 pages! It undoubtedly demonstrates the versatility, depth, and style of Rich?s writing. Every poem is structured differently. Some consecutive lines rhyme, increasing the poem?s overall effect on the reader. Half the poem deals with Karl Marx?s Communist Manifesto, discussing the ideas in his book about societal issues, evil, and warfare. This especially jumped out at me. The section creates an image of a room or classroom filled with adults during a book discussion. It is very possible that this was the image Rich intended to make in her readers, and that is one reason she named it ?A Long Conversation?.
One of my favorite lines is ?You and I are caught in/ a laboratory without a science.? in ?Letters To a Young Poet?, 2. You are where you?re supposed to be, but it seems as though you have no reason to be there because something significant is missing. It seems pointless that you have the tools, but nothing tangible to work with. You?re stuck in a state of baffled understanding. The author and the other ?she? in the poem are both in contemplation of their artwork. They are searching for the impossible beauty to bring out in their work. ?She? is there with it, but is having trouble recognizing it, and this is tearing her apart. Recognizing the invisible is beyond difficult.
?Seven Skins? probably confused me more than any poem I?ve ever read in my life. What I got out of it was that it would be very difficult to have sex with a paraplegic. I did like the lines ?What a sac of eggs what a drifting flask/ eager to sink to be found/ to disembody.? Rich is possibly stating that she was insecure and desperate for attention during her earlier stage of life. The ?She? in the poem wanted to lose herself in order to have that feeling of being newly discovered. She got that spiritual feeling from Vic? She accomplished something through her unique experience.
Overall, I really enjoyed Adrienne Rich?s ?Midnight Salvage.? Her distinct themes brought out a plethora of feelings and emotions in me, such as sadness, bewilderment, and acknowledgement. I could directly imagine scenes she was describing and this made it all the more moving and effective. She is quite a talented poet and it shows in her work.
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